Scott Tournet came to San Diego for the usual reason: “A girlfriend. She fell in love with San Diego, and I kind of followed.”
Ver La Luz is Scott Tournet’s first solo album since 2006. Released in May, the self-produced effort was recorded and engineered by Mike Kamoo at his Earthling Studios in Chula Vista. Tournet and Kamoo started tracking in the spring of 2012. When I finally catch up with the singer/songwriter/guitarist by phone, he is upstairs in the green room at a venue called the Brighton Music Hall in Boston. Tournet says he has about 20 minutes to talk before he heads downstairs for soundcheck with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, a band he cofounded more than a decade ago.
Tournet, like the rest of the Nocturnals, is originally from Vermont. He moved to San Diego about a year ago, says it was for the usual reason: “A girlfriend.” He laughs. “You know, right? She fell in love with San Diego, and I kind of followed. I genuinely do love the place, and it’s a big part of the record I just put out.”
“The record is kind of a story. After ten years of nonstop touring, I had a meltdown. San Diego saved my soul. The timing in moving there and some of the things I found in San Diego is totally helping me in redoing my lifestyle.”
Name one of the big differences when you compare San Diego to other places you’ve lived.
“Everybody [in San Diego] is aware of what they look like. Everybody talks about having that summer body. In Vermont, we say winter body, not summer body. A lot of people move [to San Diego] and get healthy. That’s what [it] did for me.”
“We live in the Mission Hills/Hillcrest area. I love it. It’s five minutes from the airport. I can be anywhere in minutes. But, it’s also calming there.... We moved to Ocean Beach first. I liked it. It reminded me of Vermont because of all the old hippies that still live there.”
You recorded your new CD in Chula Vista at Mike Kamoo’s shop...it’s cool that you found a competitive studio situation in San Diego...
“Mike’s got a cool little spot. He’s had it for, like, 17 years.... I spent a lot of time in L.A. I’ve done it, and I’ve had fun up there, and I’ve not had fun up there, too.
Did you write the songs in San Diego or on the road?
“I wrote it in little fragments...but most of it was written in San Diego. I wrote a lot of it on the 5 freeway, actually, going back and forth to L.A. to record with Grace Potter.”
The Nocturnals seem to accept change gracefully and incorporate new ideas with pretty much every release...
“We like to do about 17 different things.” He laughs. “And that last thing you saw us do, whatever it was? There were 17 things we liked to do before that.”
Potter herself has gone from being an indie rocker in jeans and flannel shirts to a sequined hottie — at least once...
“They [the music industry] are gonna try and shoehorn your image and your music into something they can sell that has sex appeal, and if there’s one thing we like more than music, it’s sex.”
And she surely has an interesting sex appeal, but not to the point of distraction from the music or from the rest of the band...
“Coming from Vermont, it’s not the kind of place where you dress a certain way. It’s not in the culture.”
The Nocturnals seem not to have sold out in that respect. Has that hurt the band in terms of radio play?
“All the money we’ve ever made is completely from touring. To get into pop culture is so hard. It’s a whole different animal. To try and keep yourself relevant and out in front all the time, like what that guy in Maroon Five puts himself through? Fuck that.” He laughs.
Have you played any local shows with a pickup band or sat in at some of our clubs with anybody?
“I haven’t yet, and I’d like to.”
So, what do you and your girlfriend like to do around San Diego?
“I love that place Lucha Libre, that Mexican joint on Washington Street. Those burritos they have...? I don’t remember what they call them. But they are massive. And all the sushi’s good. Fish tacos in O.B., the Padres, all the farmers’ markets. We haven’t made it to the one in Little Italy, but the one in Hillcrest...the one by the DMV [on Normal Street] is good. Aztec basketball — coming from Vermont, we love basketball. Oh, and I’ve been to the Casbah.”